The weather is in the process of turning from deep winter into early spring. In the UK that means we have heavy frosts at night and lovely clear days. All that means I am out in the garden trying to steal a march on those jobs that (hopefully) I am not going to have time for come the summer. Like weeding the borders thoroughly. And pruning the perennial shrubs. I also pruned the apple tree yesterday. Thankfully I had a bough lopper that I could use, but my neck is a little sore from all that looking upwards!
As I was mentally compiling the list of things that have to be done in the garden, I was also thinking of what I want to get sorted inside. One of the major things I want to put together is a herbal first aid kit – something that I can turn to when the baby (I am not losing hope of a match yet!) or my husband or I come down with something. Luckily, my trusty book “Herbs for Vibrant Health” by Rosemary Gladstar, has a list of things to include in such a first aid kit. First aid is actually something very close to my family’s heart, especially as my sister is a freelance First Aid Trainer. Check out her website at http://beavertraining-technical.webs.com for what she can offer (yes, yes, shameless plug… but she is my sister!!)
The essentials in your first aid kit can be divided into gels and salves, Tinctures, Essential and other Oils and then powders, capsules and other essences.
First the gels and salves. Ms Gladstar suggests having two separate salves – one which is all purpose and one which is specifically anti-fungal. However, I think that it makes sense to have one which covers all the bases, and as they both treat the same things (cuts, wounds, burns and sunburns) a little research should yield a recipe which covers all of these areas. Ms Gladstar also suggests having aloe vera gel in the kit for use on burns and cuts and wounds. I like using aloe vera gel, but you have to remember that it can make skin photosensitive, so be careful on the areas you use it, just in case you begin to react to light in an adverse way.
Next some the tinctures. A Tincture is a concentrated liquid extract of herbs, usually using alcohol as the main solvent, though they can be made with glycerin or apple cider vinegar as well. The tinctures you can make and include in your kit are Echinacea – great for colds, flus, infections and boosting a weak immune system; a Liquorice tincture which will sort out sore throats, bronchial inflammation and even the herpes simplex virus (cold sores, mostly); a tincture of St John’s Wort which can help burns, pain, nerve damage, depression and anxiety; and a tincture of Valerian which can help pain, insomnia, stress and nervous tension and achy muscles.
Now we move onto the essential essential oils to have in your arsenal. I don’t think it will be any surprise that Lavender is in the list. It deals with all sorts of things from headaches, minor burns and sunburns, insect bites and congestion. It also helps to relax you. Eucalyptus essential oil is in there too to help with congestion, achy muscles, repelling insects, cuts and abrasion, warts and cold sores. There is also a recommendation for Peppermint essential oil which will help with digestive problems, burns, act as a mouthwash or as a general stimulant. There is also tea tree essential oil to be considered. This can be added to steams to help with congestion, but it is also good for achy muscles, repelling insects, cuts and abrasions, warts, cold sores and toothache.
You can also make some flavoured and scented oils to include in the kit. Garlic infused oil is great for ear infections and parasites as well as colds. St John’s Wort infused oils can help with burns, swellings, pain, bruises, sunburn and achy muscles.
Finally, we have the odd bits and pieces which can help. The Bach Rescue Remedy has got to be in there. It is brilliant for trauma and shock and can be used on animals, children and adults. You can also include some green clay powder to make poultices to extract splinters as well as acting as a wound disinfectant and as a treatment for poison oak or poison ivy rashes. Lets not forget about those winter essentials – the cold care capsules. If you have succumbed to a cold, there is nothing better to give it a kick in the pants than one of those.
I am looking forward to making, storing and using all of these ideas. If you use these already, or have some other suggestions, then please, let me know!